No BS Blog

Chasing that [long]Tail

October 9, 2014

Where  five years ago, “breaking” news was THE mission for reporters, we’re now starting to see a slight shift in how media treats hard news coming out of today’s emerging tech companies. While getting there first still earns you bonus points, when it comes to reporting on launches or corporate announcements it’s more about crafting a meaty, well researched article than being first to click publish.

Nowadays, audiences can get the same experience of reading a newspaper or magazine by scrolling through Twitter. In fact, for the majority of its users Twitter is their primary source of news. Knowing that they still need to drive clicks and shares of their articles, reporters now are left to compete and differentiate their stories based more heavily on the quality of content they produce. Flipping through some of today’s news outlets – big or small – you have no trouble finding articles with ample use cases, industry research and third party references that not only report on the facts of the announcement, but also provide ‘bigger picture’ analysis.

Our team witnessed this “long tail” trend when taking our client Acorns through their recent launch. Leading up to the release date, we conducted 12 pre-briefings with a mix of outlets. We anticipated most of the articles hitting on the actual release date, but only saw three articles publish once the embargo lifted. Having received verbal confirmation that each reporter had plans to write, we held off panicking and waited patiently for the rest of the articles to hit. In the following days after the announcement, we saw nearly 35 feature articles publish. For the most part, each story included stats, quotes from other industry experts and the reporter’s own take on the news.

Using this experience as an example, we’re adjusting coverage expectations around launches. More than ever, PR agencies need to partner with their clients to provide exclusive/customized content and ample resources reporters can also tap for commentary – this is what will ultimately drive coverage of your client.

The caliber of coverage we achieved for our client went above and beyond even our highest expectations. This proved to be a launch for the coverage hall of fame [that should exist, don’t you think?!].

acorns

Here are a few of our favorite stories:

http://www.wired.com/2014/08/acorn-app/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/08/26/acorns-is-a-micro-investment-app-that-does-all-the-thinking-for-you/

http://www.theverge.com/2014/8/26/6068017/acorns-app-saving-investment

So don’t be surprised if you don’t get 35 high quality pieces of coverage the morning the embargo lifts. If you want to get the good stories – the ones that go beyond the details in the press release and make you pump your fists in the air as you read them; you have to provide the right information, be patient, and expect to chase the long tail.

Bailey and Morgan

The Low Down on Mile High Disruption at Denver Startup Week

September 19, 2014

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We’ve been growing our presence in the fine state of Colorado for over a year now and, with that, came the recent move to Denver. With job demand at an all time high and technology wages in the city rising at some of the fastest rates in the country—Barokas is deep in the trenches of Denver’s rapid tech growth.

 “There’s a lot of rainbows and unicorns bullshit that goes on, and I think we have to temper that with some reality. Most entrepreneurs will fail.”

 While 500 Startups founder, Dave McClure, kicked off the week with the above uplifting reality check concerning the business of startups, the numbers seemed a bit more promising.  According to the Downtown Denver Partnership, there are 373 startups with 3,108 employees in Denver. In 2013, 80 new startups were born, and Denver companies raised almost $200 million in the second quarter of 2014. Startups make up 7.5 percent of businesses in Denver.

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We were honored to host a client panel discussion on “Sifting Through The BS: Advice That Really Matters When You’re In The Trenches Of Building A Business.” On Monday, PivotDesk CEO, David Mandell, Simple Energy CEO, Yoav Lurie, and Rapt Media CEO Erika Trautman, all spoke candidly about the difficulties they’ve faced starting a business and how they have all managed to be successful—against the odds. Responding to questions that ranged from how to quell your spouses fears that failure is imminent to how to seek funding and from whom, it was an office hours advisory session that left a packed house in awe of the honesty and real advice they were able to take away with them. 

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A myriad of discussions this week further inspired the entire city and left us even more proud of what we’re all building here, and readied everyone to continue innovating.

Denver Startup Week has come to an end, after its most successful year yet, however we’ll be here next year and we hope you will too. As Erika Trautman noted about selling her house to start her business, “I was all in. There was no question about whether we’d succeed, because we had to.” Denver is all in too, together.

 Rachel 

Launching a Killer Product in a Deadly Crowded Space

September 17, 2014

A few months ago we were approached by a potential client with a cat for a logo. Needless to say, it was love at first sight 

Back in July we started working with said cat company that was operating in beta mode at the time called Kato.im, which is the first free, full-featured professional chat solution for businesses. In order to get a thorough feel for the product, we decided to move our client communication entirely to the Kato.im platform. To this day our team has never sent an email to the client. Not one time. Our workflow takes place entirely on Kato.Im and Google Docs. Believe me when I say, it’s magical. Don’t’ believe me? Here’s why:

  • Everything happens in real time. Projects, queries, cat memes, the like
  • Our efficiency rate has sky-rocketed. Faster completion of projects means tighter deadlines, which equates to a higher rate of coverage
  • Our relationship with the client is casual and extremely comfortable. No more time wasted on formalities.

 

Our task was to launch the company out of beta which is no easy feat – as is the case with most companies launching out of beta mode. The communication space is cluttered with players, most of which focus solely on emojis and text, voice and video communication. While these features are all well and good, capability such as file sharing, 3rd party platform support, global search capability and side-by-side chat windows are really what’s going to make a difference in a business’s internal communication efficiency.

Kato.im is the only chat solution on the market that offers side-by-side chat capability. Think Facebook chat or Gchat on steroids. We could convey all this via pitch in an email but if an overwhelming inbox is the problem then it totally defeated the purpose. We had to take matters into our own hands and reached out via Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. In order to get reporter’s attention and call out the functionality, we created a visual that would show reporters exactly what their chat would look like in Kato.im. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

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We secured coverage in publications such as, but most certainly not limited to, Forbes, TechCrunch and VentureBeat. Just to name a few.

What we came to conclude post-launch that helped result in our success (besides a stellar team of course), was our fluency for the product. Having used this product as the only means to communicate both internally and externally, we were able to articulately speak to every facet and function of the product. Kato.im was able to successfully launch out of Beta mode and now has a higher download rate than ever before. 

The Kato.im and Barokas teams operate entirely over the Kato platform. We’ve been introduced to a different, forward-thinking means of communication that we’re able to represent confidently and seamlessly at any given time. Be looking for us in your favorite tech pubs – we’ll be there.

Lizzy

If you want to be acquired by HP, choose Barokas PR.

September 11, 2014

 

 

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While we can’t make any promises, I got your attention, didn’t I? All joking aside, today we are wishing our friends at Eucalyptus Systems a BIG congratulations as they are acquired by HP. This is the second Barokas PR client acquired by HP – the first was Opsware in 2007.

As any PR person who has been in this position can attest, seeing your client, your baby, acquired by another brings with it a mixed bag of emotions – similar to your child heading off to his/her first day of school or leaving home for college. On one hand, you are so proud. You know that you have done everything you can to help get them to this point (blood, sweat and tears included). On the other hand, you know you will miss them dearly – the camaraderie, the friendships, and yes, even the hours spent burning the midnight oil heading into a big launch.

Over the years, we’ve experienced these feelings time and time again. Our work has resulted in a strong track record of taking emerging tech companies from stealth mode through an acquisition. Some of the companies we’ve worked with in this role include:

  • Opsware acquired by HP in 2007 (AOR from 2001 to 2008)
  • Redback acquired by Ericsson in 2006 (AOR from 2005 to 2011)
  • Clearwell Systems acquired by Symantec in 2011
    (AOR from 2006 to 2011)
  • Hubspan acquired by Liaison in 2012 (AOR from 2010 to current)
  • Scout Analytics acquired by Service Source in 2014
    (AOR from 2013 to current)
  • buuteeq acquired by Priceline (AOR from Jan 2014 to current)
  • Eucalyptus Systems (AOR from 2012 to current)

 

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Continue to follow our blog in the coming months to see who might be the next company added to the list above.

And congrats Eucalyptus – our baby is off to college! :)

Karli

The Suite Life at PAX 2014

September 9, 2014

10 years. 85,000 attendees. 1 client.

Each year, the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) brings together fans from across the country and around world to see that latest innovations from gaming’s biggest names. Held in the Emerald City’s backyard, PAX celebrated it’s 10th anniversay this year with the largest crowd in the event’s history. In testament to the event’s growing popularity, organizers sold out tickets in less than two hours earlier this summer.

While most of the action took place at the Washington State Convention Center, we also staffed an off-site suite at a nearby hotel where Atari showcased several of its upcoming games including RollerCoaster Tycoon World, Alone in the Dark: Illumination, and Haunted House: Cryptic Graves. The event gave us an opportunity to connect with gaming reporters and bloggers across the industry, and further highlight Atari’s comeback story.

The results?

 

31 meetings. 80 pieces of coverage. More than 130 million impressions and counting.

Check out some photos from the event:

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                                                                                     View of the Atari demo suite

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                                Video interview with Atari’s CEO and COO for New Gamer Nation.

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Trying an Oculus for the first time!

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          Screenshots of Atari games including (clockwise): Minimum, Alone in the Dark: Illumination RollerCoaster Tycoon World and Haunted House: Cryptic Graves.

See you next year!

Barokas PR Team Atari

 

When Your News, Isn’t

August 18, 2014

It’s not easy telling people things they don’t want to hear; in fact it sucks. More than once you’ve likely found yourself being the messenger – the one who begs not to be shot. Sometimes it’s easy, like “hey, you have something on the side of your face” while making a wiping motion on your face. Other times it’s the more painful “I don’t think this is working out.” What makes PR folks cringe? Telling a client “this isn’t news.”

For a majority of the world public speaking tops the list of most feared activities, but for PR folks I believe giving a client bad news or telling them something they don’t want to hear is the most dreaded exercise. Unfortunately there is no way around it; the only real choice is whether to tell them now or later. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be in the position of breaking the news that the client’s “news”, isn’t newsworthy. Doing it doesn’t get easier with age – it’s a drag,  especially when I know what a big deal {insert topic } is to them personally and to their company.

A perfect example of this: a new website. Even though designing and building a website has become faster and less expensive, for most clients it’s a long, sometimes painful process, that takes more time and more money than initially planned. When the new site goes live, there is relief and excitement – internally – an enthusiasm that some clients believe the whole world should share; but the whole world doesn’t care, and that’s okay. What for some feels newsworthy, isn’t always worthy of being covered, but that doesn’t make it less exciting or something that shouldn’t  be shared with company stakeholders including investors, employees, and customers. Another one: an acquisition of a company no one knows, for an unnamed amount. Reporters are writing for eyeballs, and if ACME CO has no brand, you got no story. One more: a minor product update. Good for the business? Yes. Good for customers? Yes. Something reporters/bloggers would care about? Not usually. If a product did A and now it does A + a little bit of B, its not very interesting – as a news story. Again, good for other constituents, not the media.

It’s never easy saying your baby is ugly, especially when the proud parents have spent so much time/money/energy creating said baby (product/service) but occasionally that’s the way it works out. Not all babies will be pretty and not all news is news.

ugly baby

 

Howie

Applying Pokémon Battle Strategy to PR

July 30, 2014

Pokemon World Champion Trophy[1] copy

 

As an agency with numerous clients in the digital marketing, enterprise, and B2B tech industries, it may surprise some clients, friends, and readers of the ‘No BS blog’ to learn that our longest standing client is, in fact, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi).

Serving as Pokémon’s heart and soul and outside of Japan, Bellevue, Wash.-based TPCi manages the brand at the national and global levels. Over the last 10 years, BPR has partnered with Pokémon on its quest to promote and build the company’s Organized Play event series.

Each year, thousands of Pokémon trainers (ages 6-60) from around the country participate in Organized Play events – competing via the Pokémon Trading Card Game or video game.  BPR works with media to promote the events, ranging from local City tournaments to major international events, and showcase the success of Pokémon trainers in their hometowns.

As Pokémon trainers prepare their decks and select their teams for the year’s most elite event, the 2014 Pokémon World Championships – taking place next month in the largest media market in the history of the event, Washington, D.C. – this team is taking some guidance from Pokémon competitors as we master the art of pitching local broadcast.

Here are three lessons in securing local broadcast for your next event, as they relate to Pokémon battle strategy:

1)   Preparation & Strategy

Stack your deck early and get creative to give yourself the best chance of pulling a successful card in battle.                                                            

While nothing can replace the basic who, what, when, where and why of a media alert, you sure can get creative on how you position your event. What makes your email stand out is in the why – what makes the event visually appealing? Who will be on hand for interviews? Is there a ceremony, or certain times that will be visually most exciting? Significant anniversaries, number of attendees, amount of charitable giving, etc. can all be great details to highlight in addition to the visual appeal.

We also recommend initial outreach to media three weeks in advance of the event – get your event on radar of local broadcast early, perhaps you can even land it on the station’s master schedule. Despite some traditional print/online media adages about reaching out to a specific reporter – make sure that your initial outreach includes a producer or director (not an anchor, unless you have a previous relationship with them) as well as contacting the general news tip email address. Someone is always at the other end, even if they don’t respond.

2)    Tenacity

In the heart of battle, no one has ever won a by waiting for the competitor to surrender.

Local broadcast is won and lost on the day of the event. We’re not sure if you’ve read this on the ‘No BS Blog’ before (read: sarcasm), but picking up the phone and calling the news desk is the most important step in securing local broadcast (and perhaps the most effective use of the telephone in the history of PR, ever). We can’t stress this enough. Yes, reaching out to local stations in advance of the event is essential to getting your event on the station’s radar and making sure they have all the necessary details – but things are always fluid in the news room and nothing can replace connecting with someone making the coverage decisions that day.

Oh, and call before 9am. The news team is probably in their planning meeting then, so be sure to catch someone at the dsk before they determine who’s headed where that day. And if no one answers – call back in 5-10 minutes and someone likely will.

3)   Luck

Sometimes, the type of deck you’re spent hours putting together just can’t compete with the deck you’re competitor is playing.

Major local, national, and international events can cause a station (and an entire media market) to switch gears in an instant. Even if a videographer has already been sent out, shot b-roll, and conducted interviews – your segment can get bumped without warning. This is when fostering a relationship with the reporter/videographer that actually attended the event is essential. Remember to ask when they expect the segment to run and grab a business card (and their cell number!) while they’re on site – both will be important for tracking the segment. If a major piece of news comes up, it’s unlikely that you’ll hear back from someone other than your contact at the station about whether or not your segment ran. Ideally you could watch the show live, but like all major events, there’s rarely time for a TV break when hosting media and managing a million moving pieces.

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These are just a few of the lessons we’ve learned while landing broadcast in markets such as Indianapolis, Vancouver, B.C., and how we plan on doing the same in Washington D.C. this summer.                            

– Kersa & Michelle

PS – BPR continues to expand our gaming practice, with includes such current clients as Atari and FlowPlay.

The Internet of (Every) Things

July 18, 2014

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As a PR professional, you interact with Internet of Things (IoT) technology on a daily basis – whether you know it or not. Log your morning walk down the block for that double shot of espresso on your Fitbit and your interacting with IoT. It’s everywhere if you know where to look (even behind the scenes): it’s controlling the temperature at which your latte cup was washed and ensuring the temperature of the café you sat in. The IoT is booming and questions are on the rise.

To shed light on the topic the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) recently held an IoT panel with industry experts from Microsoft, Ombitron, UIEvolution, Optimum Energy, and Avanade. Net net: it’s time to recognize IoT’s impact and get ahead of the curve.  This new wave of innovation is as real and present as cloud-based technology or big data, and evolving just as quickly. Not surprisingly, many of the key topics discussed will mean big implications for PR.

PR professionals should be closely watching these 5 IoT trends:

  1. Big Business = Big Money – Once a start-up dominated business, IoT has become a hot topic for big names like Dell, HP and Microsoft, as well as consumer brands such as Coke and Nike who have started using this technology in their latest products. Involvement from these key players signals immense growth, which will have an impact on all businesses. Your clients need to understand how IoT affects their businesses. Prepare yourselves; the industry is just starting to heat up and the questions will only continue to increase.

 

  1. A New Buzzword – IoT is a buzzword, but this technology is not particularly new. Once referred to as machine-to-machine technology, the roots of IoT are based in Edison’s automatic telegraph invented in 1869. Consumers have become used to smart, mobile devices and are looking, nay, expecting more. They want something to believe in: a better, smarter and more reliable tomorrow. It’s your job in PR to understand how your client meets this expectation.

 

  1. A Common Platform – To date, startups and corporations have been developing cutting edge IoT products independently. The result? About 50 billion devices interacting with users, but not each other. Imagine a golfer wearing golf shoes, gloves, and a club all connected via the IoT. The shoes would give the user feedback on stance, the gloves correct grip, and the club provides swing analysis. Today, a golfer would still have to analyze these independent snippets of information to improve his or her game. Why? Because none of these products are talking to each other. A common platform or “language” for these devices will be the next big thing to sweep IoT. In the future, that same golfer will be told which foot to move and hand to lower to improve his or her swing. For PR pros, IoT creates a compelling opportunity to come out from behind the tech specs to tell stories about what the technology enables and it’s impact on society.

 

  1. Acquisitions and IPOs – Money is swirling through the industry, pulling new vendors and products out of the woodwork. Key players are on the prowl and we will likely see consolidation in the IoT space. From a PR perspective, you should proactively position your client in front of these opportunities by driving placement in stories that highlight IoT innovation and the value your clients’ products deliver.

 

  1. A Changing World – New standards bodies, policies, and regulations cannot keep up with IoT technology as it’s moving so fast. The rules are constantly evolving, which translates into trouble and opportunity for PR. You’ll want to check your work, and then check it again, to ensure it is aligned with the latest industry standards so you don’t end up hitting a legal pothole. At the same time, this constant evolution creates room for originality. The ceiling for creativity keeps moving on up, so think big for your client, as they could be the one that changes the game for IoT.

 

A few years ago cloud was the hot topic, followed by big data. In the beginning they were criticized and misunderstood, but the smart companies were capitalizing. IoT is next on the horizon and PR professionals should be ready to place themselves and their clients in front of the trend.

*If you’re interested in upcoming panels on technology trends, check out the WTIA website.

-Jessica

Barokas PR Boulder/Denver – One Year Later

July 14, 2014

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On June 24, 2013, I drove to Boulder, sat down at a desk, opened my laptop and embarked upon a new journey.

Barokas PR came to Boulder with an idea. A vision to bring the community something different and ask them to look at PR in a new way – and they did. As I think back on the year, I’m taking it all in – what we’ve learned, how much we have accomplished. A year has passed, but we are only just beginning.

Colorado is doing amazing things and the energy is contagious. We dove right into the community as the TechStars Boulder PR mentor. This experience not only welcomed us into the community but also resulted in client partnerships and wonderful relationships. Following TechStars, we hosted a panel at Denver Startup Week and started an internship program through CU Boulder, which led to a recent full-time hire on our Colorado team.

The common theme throughout: think differently and look at PR as a strategic partner that can help you build, run and grow your business. By asking the community to look at PR through this lens, we opened doors for emerging companies to think about PR – many for the first time.  We talked about this vision to The Boulder Daily Camera last summer.

Along the way we have hired a team of six incredible PR professionals and partnered with companies and individuals embarking on amazing journeys of their own – World Lister, Rapt Media, Gone, BoxBee,MyCityWay,LeadPages, Kato,RoundPegg,Revel Systems, PivotDesk,Mocavo,Vcita and more. We launched, we pitched, we messaged, we wrote, we edited, we questioned, we strategized, and then…we did it all again.

To round out year 1, we are moving into a new home in Lower Downtown Denver, known locally as LODO. The space is the perfect complement to our Seattle office (the mothership) with a fun vibe, great energy and a blank pallet for us to make it all our own. We will now have a presence in Boulder and the heart of Denver.

Our team just finished reading Ben Horowitz’s book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. He talks a lot about being in the moment and making decisions for where you are now. That is exactly what we are doing as we head into our second year.

Keys in hand, we are ready – Bring It!

-Johanna

Seattle – We’re Movin’ On Up!

June 30, 2014

When I moved up to Seattle from Southern California, part of what attracted me to this area was the opportunity to work in a tech savvy city that was on the verge of great things. After all, where’s the challenge working in a city like San Francisco that’s already been there, done that?

Last week’s Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award ceremony reminded me once again of all the reasons I moved here and am proud to call the Pacific Northwest home. For starters, the winner’s circle represented a who’s who of brands I use all the time including Talking Rain and Zulily. We also saw a healthy turnout of CEOs on the nominees list including ExtraHop Networks co-founders Jesse Rothstein and Raja Mukerj, and the CEO of buuteeq, Forest Key. But perhaps the most touching moment for me came during the acceptance speech from Monty Montoya, CEO of a company I had never heard of called, SightLife. EY[1]They are a global non-profit dedicated to eliminating corneal blindness. Montoya’s heartfelt gratitude to his wife and family, and show of support from his table of teammates screams “winner” to me on multiple levels.

Like most other big city events, the ceremony had all the trademark characteristics of a star-studded gala including a dazzling New Year’s Eve style ballroom and Pharrell’s “Happy” song filling the room. The folks at our local EY office did an excellent job, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year and which other superstar CEOs will be up for the honor in our region.

From where I sit, I think Seattle has earned its stripes as a tech hotbed and we are only getting started. For others, like Quentin Hardy, the jury’s still out. In his recent NYT article Seattle, the New Center of a Tech Boom he states, “It’s too early to say if this concentration of big engineering talent is sustainable over the long haul and whether it will evolve into a flywheel of innovation like Silicon Valley. “ But, one thing everyone can agree upon is that the appetite for technology is unlike it’s ever been. And, the kinship between Seattle and Silicon Valley signals good times ahead for consumers and the tech community alike.

Frances

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